May 25, 2019
National Survey of Nonprofits Shows the Power of Taglines

September 26, 2008 — For nonprofits, a name may not be enough. They also need a tagline, a phrase of eight words or less that tells their story, according to a recently released report based on a national survey of 1,900 nonprofits.

The Nonprofit Tagline Report, developed by the Getting Attention blog, notes that, “Many organizations expect their names to broadcast what it is they do. Trouble is, they frequently don’t.”

The report provides models, dos and don’ts, trends on tagline use and longevity, and the first-ever directory of more than 1,000 nonprofit taglines. The survey forming the basis of the report reflected a wide range of organizations that are diverse in field or issue focus, budget and staff size, longevity, and geographic location; from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association to the Bendigo (Australia) Figure Skating Club and the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

Key Findings

Among the report's major findings are the following:
  • Taglines that work generally fall into one of four categories, describing an organization’s work, impact or value, core values or spirit, or strategic approach.

  • Most effective taglines relate to an organization’s name, without repeating it.

  • High-power taglines tell a memorable story, expresses the organization’s brand, is distinctive, and motivates its audience.

  • 72% of nonprofits rate their taglines poorly, or don’t have one at all.

  • The leading reason that nonprofits don’t have taglines is they never thought of it.

  • Human services organizations lead the way in having taglines (75%), with grantmakers just behind.

  • Nonprofit staff members most focused on making the most of their taglines are marketers (47%), fundraisers (24%), and executive directors (21%).

  • Most taglines gauged to be very effective have been in use two to four years (43%).
The report includes a 10-point check list to help nonprofits develop an effective tagline, in order to achieve its marketing and organizational goals.

Key among them are: taglines must convey your nonprofit’s or program’s impact or value, be broadly and easily accessible and memorable, avoiding jargon and acronyms, be specific to your organization, not easily used by another nonprofit reaching out to the same audiences, and be eight words or less.

For the full report click here.

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